Cousins

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They were meant to know each other

in this piece of countryside.

They were meant to clamber its stiles,

show us the fields as they saw them.

They were meant to know seasons,

conduct fair-headed inspections

of bark, coevals at a river’s edge.

They were meant to know distance

and run ahead with the dog.

They were meant to know birdsong

and bracken and bees.

They were meant to know each other,

charting these lanes like we did.

They were meant to know rain

and slowworms, the berries

that bleed in a palm.

They were meant to climb

until my heart tipped,

come back down and argue

in the race to the ford.

They were meant to know rabbits

torn, opened,

and a muntjac’s stare

before the vanish into bramble.

They were meant to learn tracks

and to leave them,

and to know what it is to be lost.

They were meant to know each other,

and come to me with a clutch of cow parsley’s lace.

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